Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pockets of Tranquility

"You owe it to everyone you love (including yourself) to find pockets of tranquility in your busy world." 

Georges Bernanos

What is it about a garden that brings such joy, such peace, such tranquility to a person? Is it just the fact that something is alive, vibrant and healthy or is it something altogether different than that? I have been in all sorts of gardens to know that it isn't always the fact that the garden is teeming with color that makes it magical, at least for me. In fact, Autumn is typically my favorite time of the year yet things are going dormant and turning colors; basically dying. But just being in a garden space or out in nature brings such a peaceful feeling to me that it is hard to beat.

Just today while doing the daily watering of my garden I was thinking to myself (as I do on a daily basis in my garden) just exactly what my garden represents to me. There amongst all the plants that I have purchased at different garden centers were the plants that I brought with me two years ago from my first house. Those plants had special meaning to me and it was imperative to me when we moved that they make the move also. For me, there wasn't even a question as to "if" I was going to transplant them or not. They were like my children and there was no way that I was going to leave them behind.

The lilac bush that my grandmother gave to me which always bloomed on my birthday in April came. The Virgina Creeper, samples of almost every iris that I had, the maple trees that were starting to really take hold yet graced me with the ability to dig them up and bring them over here also came along. And they are still thriving. When our favorite poodle Misty died unexpectedly on Easter Sunday before we moved, we planted a Weeping Cherry tree to help us remember how much we missed her and all the tears we weeped after she passed. This year I planted a Weeping Cherry tree on our new property and even though it is not the original tree, it reminds me to remember Misty. It is a place-holder.

Today, as I watered the plants in the early morning, I glanced at the trees that my friend Bob gave to me years ago. I said hello to the Virginia Creeper passed down to me from my grandmother. She used to have it as a living wall between her house and her neighbor's. Now I do the same. It is gently creeping up a fence on the perimeter of our yard and one day in the near future it, too, will form a living wall blocking out views of the neighbor's yard. And I remembered how beautiful it looks when Autumn arrives and the reds and oranges that the leaves turn before dropping their leaves and going dormant for yet another Winter. 

As I made the rounds of my garden today, bending every once in awhile to pluck a weed out of the garden or to dead-head a plant here and there, a smell drifted past me. It was a very familiar fragrance. I turned and there it was: the rose that I brought home with me from my grandmother's home when she passed away. I have babied that rose for years and years and still it's fragrance and appearance remind me of her. Planted alongside the rose is a walnut tree that will have to be transplanted this Winter. It, too, came from my grandmother and is the baby of the original walnut tree that must be 30 feet tall by now at my old home. One day, there will be a giant walnut tree on this property and it, too, will remind me of its origins.

Plants are what connect us I have decided. They connect us to each other, they remind us of  the person that first introduced us to the plant, they bring us closer to those we love when we can smell and see them growing. Some of my succulents have been passed down to me from my Aunt. Some plants I have received from my cousin because the deer eat them in his unfenced yard. Always, they weave a direct connection in my mind back to the source of where they came and for me, that always leads me to a place of tranquility, to a place of love, to a place of remembering. 

The connections run deep for me in my garden. And it is my hope that when I am gone that the plants that I have passed along to my friends and family, will help them remember me. When they water, they can quietly say "hello Teri...I'm glad that you are here with me in thought". Thanks for the memories, garden! 

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature."    Anne Frank


  1. there is always hope for me in the me there is something spiritual in joining in the creation cycle...pretty cool you have that creeper that was passed down as well....adding memory to the garden...smiles.

  2. Beautiful post Teri. It so reminds me of how I feel when out in my garden. Everything we have we have transplanted ourselves. Plants from our other home some 24 years ago, cuttings from my mom, dad, area that were being developed and homes torn down and all that was left was the plants they planted and we took cuttings. A little from everywhere. Thanks for this post, it definitely invigorated me and reminded me of what makes me tick.
    Have a great day.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful blog post...the threads of heart memories relived in our precious gardens. Peace be with you, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

  4. I wish I could say that my garden is magical but I guess it's a work in progress kinda thing. And yes, so many of my plants are named for the former students and their parents who gave them to me. But my favorites are the ones handed down in our family--like the tiger lily descendents of the originals collected by my dad in the forest. It's so nice to know other gardeners feel the same way about their plants too!

  5. I loved this post about your garden Teri. I'm sorry I lost touch with my blog buddies for so has a way of changing the simple and pleasurable things like blogging. Hoping you remember me from way back.
    My blogs Maggie's Secret Garden and My Simple Gestures are still shut down for the time being because I really haven't felt like sharing my life for a bit.
    My daughter and her family now live in Elk Grove CA, and my youngest son is living in Menlo Park. And yet I'm still here in Illinois unable to get out there. My hope is to stay with my daughter this coming October, and I have to say....from all the love she feels for the area they have chosen...I can't wait to get out there.
    Aside from that.....I love what you said about gardening. It's just one of the many reasons I find it so hard to leave this place. Hearing you talk about starting another garden in a new home was very inspirational to me....and just what I needed to hear.
    All my best,

  6. it looks lovely around here and your summer garden is beautiful. one can see the love in it. your thoughts about the garden connecting us is true on many levels. memories, people, nature, our God, birds & worms... the earth and our place. nice.